Awfully Good: Bangkok Dangerous

With a new HITMAN movie out, it's a good excuse to bring Nicolas Cage back to Awfully Good...

Bangkok Dangerous (2008)

Director: The Pang Brothers
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Shahkrit Yamnarm, Charlie Yeung


A hitman goes to Thailand for one last job and has his icy assassin heart melted by a deaf girl and some elephants.

BANGKOK DANGEROUS would be great had there never been any other hitman or assassin movies ever made before it. Unfortunately there have been many and the result is another lazy Nicolas Cage movie that feels like a parody of an actual good movie. 

Time to play: Old Chinese Lady or Nicolas Cage?

Hong Kong directing team The Pang Brothers remake their own 1999 movie of the same name here, but even in the last century the “assassin with a newfound heart and conscience” story felt tired. By 2008, it felt like a joke. It doesn't help that they saddle the main character with voiceover narration that ranges from depressingly cliché to painfully stupid. When he's not explaining the rules for being a hitman (one of which might as well be "Don't fall in love"), he's saying actual sentences like, "I return to my invisible world… like a ghost" and "Why didn't I kill him? When I looked in to his eyes I saw…myself."  Shirley they can't be serious.

The FACE/OFF prop department had one or two leftover Castor Troy masks.

Even the action and kills feel old hat. It’s nice seeing Nicolas Cage wield two guns John Woo-style again, but BANGKOK is for the most part simply boring with limp action scenes. There are two brief moments in this 90 minute movie that are well-executed (pun intended). One sees Cage jump off an exploding motorcycle on to a moving boat, and then ripping off the boats motor and using it to kill a guy. The other is when Cage forces a man to dry hump a grenade until he explodes in half. (Both in the Best Parts video below for your viewing pleasure.) The rest of the movie is all mopey hitman narration and hilarious love story. (More on that later.)

That's not exactly what he meant when Nic asked for a handgun

Thankfully Nicolas Cage is there to make things at least mildly watchable. First of all, and most importantly, his hairstyle in BANGKOK DANGEROUS is another winner in the Pantheon of Cage Coifs—wild and unpredictable and dark, much like his character. While not one of his more memorable performances, Cage still gives Joe enough eccentricities (or Cageisms, as I like to call them) to keep you going. Watch as he fails to count money like a normal human! Stare in awe as he gets confused as to how elephants work! See him continually steal from random Thai people and play patty cake with his apprentice as a form of "training!" And actively watch as he repeatedly makes a method acting choice to close his eyes and literally sleepwalk through the role!

"Just shoot around me. I need to, um, meditate."

But by far the most entertainingly bad part of the movie is Cage's forced romance with a mute and deaf girl named Rain. (Or at least he interprets her hand gestures to mean Rain.) In the original movie, the hitman himself was deaf and mute, but I guess they didn't trust Cage with that much responsibility in the remake. So instead he meets a deaf pharmacist and decides to break all of his much-narrated assassin rules and give in to his heart. This literally amounts to scene after scene of Cage talking to himself while a smiling, confused Asian girl looks on. They go to a restaurant where she has to watch him eat spicy food for the first time. They meet up with her mom, forcing Cage to deal with two women who don't understand him. And who could forget the touching scene where they fall in love while rubbing their hands together on a random elephant. (Between this and the ONG BAK movies, I’m pretty sure elephants just run rampant in the streets of Thailand.) 

"On Skull Island! Just don't hurt my family!"

Eventually Rain remembers that she has the ability to write in English and after weeks of incommunicable courtship, hands him a note that says, "I am happy together with you." She looks away for a second, at which point two guys randomly mug Nicolas Cage who promptly murders them violently with firearms. Bad timing! Rain doesn't hear the gunshots but she does notice when her shirt gets soaked in blood, prompting her to run away from her new boyfriend screaming. This is supposed to be a tragic sequence, but it's so goofy it's inadvertently played for laughs. And even funnier is the fact that Cage immediately reacts to the breakup in the most Thai-Emo way possible—by burning pictures of elephants, waiting outside Rain's house in the rain, and listening to the Asian equivalent of Linkin Park. (I assume.) 

For a while, Lea Thompson found herself typecast after making HOWARD THE DUCK.

Of course, the people and elephants of Thailand change Cage forever. (No joke; Cage really does see an elephant on the side of the road and decides not to murder his next target.) Sadly, breaking his own rule means that now his employers are coming after him. He's able to evade them by blowing up his own house while he hides in a bathtub, and then goes to their hideout to kill everyone else. It's here that BANGKOK DANGEROUS decides to go for the most depressing ending ever. [SPOILERS] Cage finally makes it to the big bad guy, only to be surrounded by cops. When he realizes he only has one bullet left, our hero puts the villain's head next to his own and blows both their brains out together. THE END. That's it. No resolution with Rain. No follow up with any other character or subplot. He just kills himself, probably for no reason. When you think about it, Cage would've merely been arrested for murdering an evil gangster who had just tried to assassinate a beloved politician. At worst that's a slap on the wrist in Thailand. Whoops…

"Please let the next script be good. Please let the next script be good..."

The best of Nicolas Cage's hilariously generic, cliché hitman narration.

The best Nicolas Cage action moments, the best Nicolas Cage romantic moments, and the best Nicolas Cage being Nicolas Cage moments. Enjoy!

There's a three-second sex scene with a bit of nudity, but pretty tame by Bangkok standards. 

Uranus Risky! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • Nicolas Cage starts narrating
  • Nicolas Cage tells Kong he won't get paid
  • Nicolas Cage steals something from a Thai person
  • Nicolas Cage looks like he's asleep
  • Nicolas Cage bows in a traditional Thai greeting
  • An elephant randomly appears
Double shot if:
  • Nicolas Cage kills someone

Thanks to Farzhad for suggesting this week's movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: JoBlo.com



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